Just a decade ago, robots were something we were more likely to experience on a cinema screen than in our day-to-day lives (Wall-E, a classic example and real tearjerker).
Technology is advancing at a rapid rate, with new developments dropping every single week, from the iPhone’s evolution to facial recognition and the likes of Google Home and Alexa.
In average homes technology has become mainstream and this trend is also extending into our working lives. When it comes to construction, although humans are irreplaceable when it comes to skills and knowledge, the sector is preparing for a robot revolution.
Why construction remains (kind of) unaffected so far…
Compared to other industries, such as manufacturing, ours is still relatively unaffected by a robot takeover. That’s because you lot can do an awful lot of things which are pretty impossible to automate.
Real-time variation in workloads, for example. What robot can be mid-way through plastering a wall when Steve shouts down from the top of the scaffolding that he needs a brew ASAP, and proceed to deliver this task to the perfect shade and sweetness?
Robots perform best doing repeated tasks in a controlled environment – practically the opposite of on-site life. However, as technology advances, a few different robots are starting to take on job roles which were once impossible.
What bot’s what?
There are a few different types of robot which have started to break into the construction market in a big way.
3D printing is a key player, helping large buildings pop-up here and there on demand. For example, a few months ago the first 3D printed bridge was unveiled in the Netherlands, and will be placed over a canal in Amsterdam as a working bridge next year.
Robots for brick-laying and masonry are already used to speed up processes and improve quality, due to the fact they operate with inhuman precision and pace.
Demolition robots are also already in-use, and while they aren’t as fast as demolition crews, they’re praised for being safer and cheaper when it comes to demolishing concrete and structural components at the end of a building’s lifespan.
While the robot trend is inevitably going to shake-up construction, a human workforce will always provide a service which simply cannot be recreated by automated mechanics.